Dear Ace: The mumps outbreak, year-end Y2K flashbacks and too many
episodes of “Jericho” have me thinking about emergency preparedness. Where do
I go for info in case of a catastrophe?—Calamity Jane
Dear Calamity: Zombie outbreaks, alien invasions, roving gangs of bitter George Allen campaigners…there are a lot of things that could go wrong in Charlottesville, and Ace for one would like to be prepared! Fortunately, the Office of Emergency Management for UVA, Charlottesville and Albemarle County offers a guide entitled “Know What To Do In Case of an Emergency,” which you can find on the Charlottesville and Albemarle County websites (www.charlottesville.org and www.albemarle.org).
The guide suggests that you keep an emergency supply kit on-hand that includes “a first aid kit, flashlight, battery operated radio, candles, matches, blankets, extra appropriate clothing, prescription medication, other necessary items, bottled liquids, and ready-to-eat-food.” It also recommends you take a CPR class and learn some other “life saving techniques.” Ace knows how to perform an emergency tracheotomy with a ballpoint pen. Do you?
So now you’re ready with candles and canned beans for whatever comes your way. What do you do when it starts coming? The Emergency Alert System (EAS) will be broadcasting what to do on just about every locally broadcast radio and TV station and airing alerts on cable stations. Depending on the severity of the situation, there might even be “emergency service vehicles with loud speakers [that] will provide emergency warnings,” patrolling the streets like some sort of horrible post-apocalyptic squad of ice cream trucks.
While you wait for EAS updates, remain calm and don’t use the phone unless it’s, well, an emergency. The EAS will command that you either Shelter-in-Place, Prepare-to-Evacuate or Evacuate. Shelter-in-Place means you should get indoors and away from windows and tune to an EAS broadcast to find out if you’ll have to get your shelter airtight.
Prepare-to-Evacuate means, um, prepare to evacuate: You should stay tuned to the EAS and gather up anything you’re gonna want or need should you have to make a break for it. And if you’re ordered to evacuate, it means you should turn off the oven, lock up the house, hop in the car and head to where the EAS says you should go. There are evacuation routes on routes 29, 20 and 250, as well as emergency shelters throughout the city and county. And remember: If it’s zombies, aim for the head.